Galaxy hold off Timbers
The Portland Timbers showed plenty of fight after falling behind on Wednesday.
But success at Providence Park continues to elude the Timbers, who fell 3-2 to the LA Galaxy.
Diego Valeri came off the bench to score his 80th regular-season MLS goal, becoming only the third player in Major League Soccer history to produce 80 goals and 80 assists.
Valeri's goal came in the second minute of the five minutes of stoppage time as the Timbers attempted to flip the script from the previous match — when Real Salt lake scored twice late to earn a draw — but ran out of time.
Portland is 3-3-2 and is one of four teams on 11 points in the Western Conference, trailing the top three of Sporting Kansas City, Seattle and Los Angeles FC. The Galaxy, with a third consecutive win, pulled even with the Timbers and Minnesota United at 3-3-2.
Despite the loss, and frustration that an apparent goal from Jeremy Ebobisse was ruled offside, there were positives for a Timbers side that started a completely different lineup.
With matches coming quickly, including a Sunday trip to Seattle, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese rotated all 11 starters from the 4-4 draw with Real Salt Lake.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella saw his first action in more than a year. The center backs were Bill Tuiloma and Julio Cascante. The wide backs were Marco Farfan and Pablo Bonilla. The defensive midfield was Renzo Zambrano and Cristhian Paredes, the attacking midfield was Tomas Conechny flanked by Andy Polo and Marvin Loria and Felipe Mora at striker.
"Definitely areas that we need to be better," coach Giovanni Savarese said. "But with the team that we put in today, I was very pleased with the performance, and many of the guys that came in just came in with unbelievable attitude and I think we deserved more."
Portland almost certainly deserved a goal in the 80th minute, a strong header from Ebobisse on a delivery from Yimmi Chara. But the offside flag went up and a video review didn't find a clear and obvious error had been made.
While the Timbers are in a frustrating stretch, the Galaxy are feeling good. The visitors put Attinella, in his first action in 14 months, under pressure early. And despite four strong saves from the Timbers' keeper, the Galaxy got quality goals from Efraim Alvarez, Cristian Pavone and Joe Corona.
Alvarez scored his first MLS goal in the 15th minute. Alvarez sent a ball wide then made a run into space, where Sebastian Lletget found him unmarked 13 yards from goal.
A wonderful individual effort from the crafty Pavon, a player who represented Argentina in the World Cup, made it 2-0 early in the second half.
Mora got the Timbers within striking distance in the 67th minute with his second goal in as many games. Zambrano got deep into the penalty area and forced goalkeeper David Bingham to tip the ball that dropped into the middle of the penalty area where Mora patiently converted.
With that, the Timbers seemed to have the upper hand. But Corona struck a ball from outside the 18-yard box that Attinella had no chance at to put the Galaxy up 3-1 in the 71st minute.
Sebastian Blanco, Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson came on in the 56th minute and brought some composure and energy to the Timbers.
Blanco was his usual active self, at one point striking a 30-yard shot off the crossbar.
Chara, after missing four matches with an injury, caused the Galaxy problems in his 12 minutes on the field — including assisting on Valeri's historic goal.
Only Landon Donovan (145 goals and 136 assists) and Jaime Moreno (134 goals, 102 assists) had more than 80 goals and 80 assists in their MLS career. Each of them played 340 regular-season matches.
Valeri has played 219 regular-season games with Portland, and reached the milestone in front of the coach he left at Lanus in Argentina back in 2013 — current Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
"It's a big satisfaction to achieve that stat," Valeri said. "It's says how hard I work for this club and trying to put Portland timbers in a spot of prestige that the club deserves.
"It takes a lot of time and a lot of games. It is a feeling of satisfaction, and obviously gratitude to my family."
Attinella, who worked his way back from a July 2019 shoulder surgery and hadn't played in more than 14 months, made two tough saves before halftime. In the second minute, Attinella scrambled to knock wide a close-range header from Pavon. In the 35th minute, the keeper got a hand to a well-struck Lletget shot, and in the second half he made two quick saves on close-range chances.
"The first three or four minutes, they kind of came at me like a freight train," Attinella said. "I hadn't played 90 minutes in 14 months or so. So to get that first save in the first two minutes was a really quick wakeup call. And then to have those two or three (early) corners, it was one of those moments where the game invited me back in in a really quick fashion. And it was good for me to make a save to make myself feel comfortable again."
Portland's best chance in the first half came from a corner kick. Paredes got to the far post but couldn't turn the ball on target.
Next for the Timbers is a 7 p.m. Sunday match against the Sounders at CenturyLink Field in Seattle (ROOT Sports TV).
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